Three Students. Two Countries. One University.


Growing up in Myanmar, Soe and Linn Htet and their sister, Aye Chan Myint Moh, lived under a dictatorship. In 2011, the military junta was officially dissolved, leading to a general election. Before that time, the first of the Htet brood had made his way to America for an education he says would change his life. Soe says it was hard to get a visa at that time coming from his country. But, he landed at Southeast for two years before finishing up his degree at the University of Minnesota. When it was time for grad school, Soe wanted to return to Southeast.

“The thing about Southeast is it offers a good quality education and a good campus life,” he says. “The classes made me think.”

Soe says that’s a change from school back home that focused more on memorization than questioning and sorting out ideas. Still, Soe says, his family was lucky because they were able to pay for their schooling. There is free education in Myanmar, they say, but it doesn’t offer the quality or the English opportunities the International school did. That emphasis on the opportunities of education would fuel Soe’s future. Graduating with his master’s degree from Southeast, he plans to return home with dreams of starting his own university there, just like his alma mater.

“Education is the foundation for everything. It’s what drives the world, and good education is what we need,” says Soe.

He’s already finished a business plan to begin work on his dream and returned home to start on financing.

“I don’t have the money to start a University. I have nothing. But, I have the ‘will to do,'” he smiles.

That pursuit doesn’t mean Southeast is in the past for him though. While developing this idea, he’d call or video chat with his younger siblings.

“He would talk about what he was doing and what was happening here,” says Linn. “It made me want to be here.”

Now, a junior, Linn is majoring in biomedical science with hopes of returning home to open his own medical lab. At Southeast, he’s found another aspect of education beyond school and the lab.

“I want to see the world and interact with people from different countries. I get to do that here. I get to know a lot of cultures on campus.”

The youngest Htet began her education at Southeast last year. An interior design major, she’s found a university convenient in tuition and comfortable with two brothers in tow, but also something more.

“I visited my brother here during the summer when I was 16, and I really liked the environment,” says Aye Chan Myint Moh.

She enjoyed the campus more than urban areas and says she liked the facilties, plus has found professors very helpful.

As Soe leaves his siblings behind and heads back to Myanmar to work toward a place the next generation of Htets can learn without traveling around the world, he’s not saying goodbye forever.

“I will always be in touch with Southeast—I’ll be visiting my sister and my brother.”

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